Only about 60 miles of highway separate the hometowns of Congressmen Anh "Joseph" Cao and Bill Cassidy, a political and cultural divide that's well-known on both ends of the interstate, but not necessarily seen in their two voting records. That's because they're both members of the Republican Party and both vote the GOP party line more times than not. But in the aftermath of President Barack Obama's speech to schoolchildren last week, their responses varied considerably.
For Cao, the first Crescent City Republican to serve in Congress since 1890, it was a nod to the Democratic message of the day, which his constituents in New Orleans are more accustomed to hearing. From the House floor Tuesday evening, Cao said the president's back-to-school speech was neither partisan nor politically divisive: "The president's address to students this morning promoted students setting high standards, supporting our teachers and principals, and reforming our schools. He encouraged students to take advantage of educational opportunities for successful careers and the opportunities to achieve the American Dream. As elected officials and leaders in our communities, I hope we can learn to make the distinction between our disagreements with the man in the Oval Office and our history of respecting the office itself."
Cassidy, meanwhile, carried his right-leaning message on MSNBC last week and explained "the perception from out in Baton Rouge, for example ... is that Washington is foisting something on us with slick talk and being disingenuous." When pushed by Huffington Post Editor Roy Sekoff to denounce the Republican strategy of attacking Obama for addressing schoolchildren, Cassidy fired back by saying the party has had nothing to do with the uproar over the president's speech. "This is the people talking," Cassidy said. "That is not something being put out by the GOP." — Jeremy Alford